Blog/CYM Blog You Need a Vacation by Joe Chernowski My pay-stub was telling me that I had ten vacation days left for the fiscal year, which would end in a month. I was worn out from running three big trips that summer and my wife was tired of changing all the diapers herself. After a short discussion with my wife, we decided that we needed a family vacation before the new school year was upon us. I hopped online to search the Adirondacks and reserved a cabin for a week of beaching on the lakes, hiking, eating ice cream, and being out of cell range. It was one of the best decisions of my life. For too many years as a youth minister, I didn’t take a vacation, and I don’t think I was alone in that. I think that’s one of those control-freak-can’t-let-go-superhero-complex-workaholic-what-if-someone-needs-me issues that lead us to burn out. Here are four reasons you should take a full week off at some point this summer: Shut-off. Do you get email on your phone? Do teens and Core tweet you? How many text messages a day are from teens or concern youth ministry? Don’t we ask teens to give up cell phones for retreats? It was a bit unnerving at first… until I realized how freeing it was! The walls won’t fall down. I couldn’t imagine just not going to the office for a week straight. What if parents have ideas or questions? What if there’s a potential Core Member who calls? What if a teen needs me? The ministries we run should not be about us, and if we’re worried about collapse with a little reprieve, then we need to rethink how it is set-up. Taking a week away to remind ourselves it isn’t about us can only encourage us and the Core Team. Simplify. Somewhere in the midst of eating ice cream for dinner, reading a pile of books, and feeding the ducks each morning, I realized that I had been overcomplicating much of my life. Clearly, God was using my vacation as a way to work in my heart and help me to simplify many aspects of youth ministry, my family, and my life. Primary vocation. So many youth ministers identify as youth minister first. Amidst the shutting off of devices, and how life is more simple on vacation, God makes your primary vocation clear. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see “youth minister.” He sees his son or daughter, someone who is a passionate friend, a caring brother or sister, a husband or wife, a father or mother, etc. A week away will give us time to move past stresses and issues and allow us to focus on some really hard decisions, such as should I go to the beach or should I take a hike? And when you’re on vacation, 10 out of 10 doctors agree, you should eat ice cream for dinner.